Do you believe in the Prosperity Gospel? (Part 3)

In our Q&A on 1 Timothy 6:10, we stated the following:

“Because of the refusal to follow God whole-heartedly, Mary said about rich people that God ‘filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty’ (Luke 1:53). Christ spoke this timeless warning: ‘But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation’ (Luke 6:24).

“James adds that the rich man ‘also will fade away in his pursuits’ (James 1:11), continuing, ‘Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasures in the last days’ (James 5:1-3).

“Notice! James’ warning is for our time–the ‘last days.’ When our worldwide economic troubles increase… all our wealth, riches and money will be useless and without value. None of them will help us–people will throw their gold as well as their silver into the streets, treating it as refuse, because it will be totally worthless (Isaiah 2:7, 20-21; Ezekiel 7:19)…”

In this context, let us note Proverbs 11:4:Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death.” And Zephaniah 1:18 states: “Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD’S wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land.”

Continuing with excerpts from the above-mentioned Q&A:

“Proverbs 28:20, 22 says: ‘A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished… A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, And does not consider that poverty will come upon him.’

“Again and again, the Bible tells us not to give in to the love of ‘money’ or materialism, and not to work for, as our main focus, the physical riches or possessions in this life. Proverbs 23:4-5 says: ‘Do not overwork [or: ‘wear yourself out’] to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.’…

“Rather than pursuing the love of money, wanting to become rich, or perhaps glorying in our riches (Jeremiah 9:22-23) and parading a cocky attitude of self-contentment and -sufficiency (Revelation 3:17), we are to ‘buy’ the true spiritual riches from God (Revelation 3:18), and to pursue God’s love of helping others and sharing with them our physical and spiritual riches.”

That is why we read in Proverbs 11:28: “He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like foliage.” Compare also Psalm 62:10: “Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them.”

Proverbs 16:16 tells us instead: “How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”

On the other hand, the fact that a person is rich does not prevent God from calling him or her. An interesting example can be found in Luke 19:1-10:

“Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’ Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’”

Still, riches can become a great danger for some. We need to carefully consider the warning in Matthew 13:3-7, 22:

“Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: ‘Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell… among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them… Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

It is partially for this very reason that Agur, the son of Jakeh, said the following in Proverbs 30:7-9:

“Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches— Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.”

Paul addresses the same situation when he talks about contentment. He says in 1 Timothy 6:6-8: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”

He says in Philippians 4:11-13: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

He says in 1 Corinthians 4:11: “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.”

These passages also show us that Paul, a righteous man, had to endure affliction, including, at times, lack of food, clothes and shelter. The concept of the “prosperity gospel” that God has bound Himself, by contract, to always, at all times, bless us with wealth and riches when we live righteously, is not true. We are living in a world, which is ruled by Satan the devil who wants our destruction. He afflicted Job and took away all that he had, and God allowed it for a while.

Notice Paul’s description of the lives of righteous people in Hebrews 11:24-26, 37-40:

“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward… They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented–of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

God’s ultimate purpose—our spiritual and eternal salvation—may override temporarily His general promise to bless us, including financially.

On the other hand, we need to be careful that we do not equate prosperity and wealth with righteousness and poverty with unrighteousness, because righteous people can be “poor” at times and unrighteous people can be “rich.”

The Bible contains a clear warning not to judge, mock or reject the poor, including in the church.

James 2:1-6 says:

“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?”

Proverbs 17:5 adds: “He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 22:2 adds: “The rich and the poor have this in common, The LORD is the maker of them all.”

At the same time, God cautions us not to think that people are rich because God must have blessed them. In many cases, the opposite might be true.

Psalm 73:12 says: “Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches.”

Psalm 37:7, 16 says:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass… A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked.” Compare Proverbs 16:8: “Better is a little with righteousness, Than vast revenues without justice.”

Psalm 52:7 states: “Here is the man who did not make God his strength, But trusted in the abundance of his riches, And strengthened himself in his wickedness.

Proverbs 13:11 adds: “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase.”

Finally, after telling the (unjust) rich that they ought to weep and howl for their miseries that are coming upon them (James 5:1), James 5:4-5 warns them because they became rich through ungodly means and who use their riches for ungodly purposes:

“Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.”

In conclusion, the “prosperity gospel,” as defined herein, must be rejected, as God is not duty-bound and obligated by contract to bless us financially even when we live righteously. At the same time, our physical and spiritual conduct is relevant for God’s blessings or curses, but we must be careful not to judge a particular situation by outward appearance.

A person may be wealthy because God has blessed him or her, but his or her riches might also be the result of ungodly conduct (which is often the case for the rich in this evil world). At the same time, somebody might not be poor because of God’s punishment, but his or her condition might have been caused by evil people or circumstances.

It is most important that we keep our priorities straight. We must not desire to become rich because of “love of money” or “greediness,” and we must not trust in our riches or allow them to prevent us from following God completely. If need be, we must be willing to give them up and leave them behind. We are always to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first, and if we do, then God has promised us that He will bless us in His way and in His due time.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

The Question Is Why

As we return home from the Feast of Tabernacles, there is always a great let-down, and there is a desire to not have to return to our “normal” lives and our daily work. During the Feast, we spend a great amount of truly refreshing time listening to, studying, meditating and thinking about God’s Word, as well as being with people of like mind and Spirit.

But then we get back into the swing of life and things start again to dull up and tarnish over. We fall back into old habits, we don’t make the efforts that we were making before and during the Feast. And so we may start to lose some of that fire, some of that zeal.

Motivation is not something that we can sustain automatically. Motivation is more than just feeling a certain way, and if we don’t feel that way, then we don’t do it. The word “motivation” is derived from the word “motive,” which means “needs, desires, wants or drives” within individuals. It is the process of stimulating people to action to accomplish the goals they set. If we are not crystal clear on our purpose, our calling, essentially WHY we continue to be Christians, then we WILL be pushed off course.

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that “an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force.”  This plays out as true in our Christian lives. If we are not consistently making small steps towards overcoming and changing, then our lives will stay the same, and no amount of Feasts will change that. God has called us out of this world and its ways of thinking and acting. That calling is a massive external force. It catapults us forward. But then there is Satan who is another external force. And IF we are not focused 100% on God—and this has to be a critical and integral part of who we are (our WHY)—then we will be pulled off course. Let us make it personal. Let us ask ourselves: What is our “WHY” for being a Christian? People always worry about the “how” and “what”, and while those are important in defining, they don’t hold a candle to the “why.”

  • Why do we make effort in DAILY prayer, Bible Study and Meditation? (Compare Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 11:18-22; Psalm 119:1-176.)
  • Why do we observe the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days?
  • Why do we call ourselves Christians (meaning, to be as Christ, or Christ-like, and letting Christ live in us)?
  • Why do we treat each other with outgoing love and concern, by esteeming others higher than ourselves in every relationship—including, if necessary, laying down our wants, desires and wishes for the betterment of others?
  • Why do we do the things that we do? Do we do them out of habit, or because of a conscious, active choice?
  • The list of “Why’s” could go on and on… what are some you can think of?

If we don’t have answers, then it is time to start figuring those out. We have to have a “why” for the things that we do and the way that we do them. It has to be continuously and always in the forefront of our minds that we are to become like God—to become God—with Him leading at the helm. Psalm 57:2 says: “I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.” Let us make sure we are crying out to God and asking for help in all areas of our lives.  Psalm 119:105 continues: “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” We must dig into God’s Word for wisdom and answers. We must seek God in all our ways and in all things. Hebrews 11:6 states: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

The “Why” is there. It is up to each of us to define it and engrain it into ourselves so that we don’t lose our direction, our hope and our zeal.

Current Events

by Norbert Link

We begin with articles warning of America’s current political and economic direction and policies; report on the explosive situation in the Middle East and the devastation caused by hurricane Michael; speculate on what may happen when President Trump reaches his constitutional end of his term(s); and speak on Trump’s big victory regarding the highly controversial and emotionally charged nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as the latest Supreme Court Justice.

We continue with contemplated Marijuana reform in the USA; the increasingly hostile relationship between Europe and America; and we focus on Angela Merkel’s unusually strongly-worded disagreements with President Trump, while pointing out her serious problems in her own country, which might soon lead to a new leadership in Germany. We also publish several articles on Germany’s controversial AfD party.

We conclude with reports on the despicable sex scandal of the Catholic Church and the Vatican’s attempts to cover up the horrendously sinful and criminal conduct of their priests, as well as Pope Francis’ strong stance against abortion.

Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.

Comments on News and Prophecy (October 13, 2018); The Spirit of God, of Angels, of Man and of Animals

On October 13, 2018, Norbert Link will present “Comments on News and Prophecy (October 13, 2018)” and the sermon, titled, “The Spirit of God, of Angels, of Man and of Animals.”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

This Week in the News

Leading Historian Compares USA with Nazi Germany

Vox wrote on October 5:

“Usually, comparisons between Donald Trump’s America and Nazi Germany come from cranks and internet trolls. But a new essay in the New York Review of Books pointing out ‘troubling similarities’ between the 1930s and today is different: It’s written by Christopher Browning, one of America’s most eminent and well-respected historians of the Holocaust. In it, he warns that democracy here is under serious threat, in the way that German democracy was prior to Hitler’s rise — and really could topple altogether.

“Browning, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina, specializes in the origins and operation of Nazi genocide. His 1992 book ‘Ordinary Men’, a close examination of how an otherwise unremarkable German police battalion evolved into an instrument of mass slaughter, is widely seen as one of the defining works on how typical Germans became complicit in Nazi atrocities…

“Browning’s essay covers many topics, ranging from Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy — a phrase most closely associated with a group of prewar American Nazi sympathizers — to the role of Fox News as a kind of privatized state propaganda office. But the most interesting part of his argument is the comparison between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Paul von Hindenburg, the German leader who ultimately handed power over to Hitler…”

These parallels are truly remarkable.

The Coming Economic Crash

Lobelog reprinted on September 20 the following article from Focus:

“The stock market reached its all-time high at the end of August. In its second quarter this year, U.S. economic growth was 4.1 percent. Unemployment remains below 4 percent, and inflation remains moderate. Even wages are going up…

“… it’s never if there will be a bust but when. On the tenth anniversary of the financial collapse of 2008, it’s worth looking at the potential pinpricks that will… send America crashing back to earth.

“… The deficit for this year will rise to $890 billion… The shortfall in government expenditures will rise above $1 trillion next year… Total household debt reached a new high in August: $13.3 trillion. That includes a record amount of student debt ($1.5 trillion), an ever-growing amount of mortgage debt ($9 trillion, which is perilously close to the $10.5 trillion it reached during the mortgage crisis in 2008), and an overall credit card debt that just surpassed $1 trillion for the first time.

“… This summer, corporate debt hit a new high of $6.3 trillion. Worse, the cash-to-debt ratio, which was 14 percent in 2008, has dropped to 12 percent: that’s $1 in cash for every $8 of debt… all this debt is like the termites eating away at the foundation of your house…

“Currently, the U.S. government owes $21 trillion, which is slightly more than the household and corporate debt combined. The owners of U.S. debt include federal agencies like Social Security…, the Federal Reserve…, mutual funds, and banks. Foreign countries also hold about a third of the debt… The big player… is China, and right now the Trump administration is escalating its trade war with China. Trump just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese imports after targeting $50 billion of goods in the first round. If China retaliates with more tariffs of its own, the Trump administration is threatening a third round  sanctioning all Chinese imports… China could retaliate in other ways, such as devaluing its currency. A potentially more devastating action would be to follow Russia’s example and sell its stake in Treasury bonds… At a certain point, foreign creditors will no longer support unsustainable U.S. spending…

“For much of the post-World War II era, international transactions have been conducted in dollars… But that situation is changing… As of July, it was used in 39 percent of transactions. The euro was in second place at 35 percent. Further down the list came the pound, the yen, and the yuan. The fall of the dollar anticipates an eclipse of U.S. global economic hegemony.

“It’s hard to predict when all of these indicators will converge. Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio expects a major economic downturn in the United States in two years, after the impact of the tax cuts disappears and the government finds itself short on money… This will be no ordinary downturn. Irrational exuberance has pushed up stocks above their value, sent household and corporate debt into the stratosphere, and burdened the government with debt it will have greater difficulty covering. Interest rates remain low, so there’s no real option to lower rates to stimulate the economy… if the United States goes down, it will drag much of the global economy with it. After all, U.S. debt is only part of a larger problem. As Walden Bello explains:…  There is a consensus among economists along the political spectrum that this debt build-up cannot go on indefinitely without inviting catastrophe.”

Project Syndicate wrote on September 13:

“… by 2020, the conditions will be ripe for a financial crisis, followed by a global recession… Unlike in 2008, when governments had the policy tools needed to prevent a free fall, the policymakers who must confront the next downturn will have their hands tied while overall debt levels are higher than during the previous crisis. When it comes, the next crisis and recession could be even more severe and prolonged than the last.”

Sooner Than Expected?

Express wrote on October 11:

“Global markets have been plunged into chaos today with stocks plummeting in Europe and Asia following Wall Street’s worst day since February. Shares sank into a sea of red as world markets slumped to their lowest level in eight months…

“… in Europe, the market has…  felt the ripple effects of the ongoing fallout between Italy and European Union chiefs over Rome’s deficit budget proposal… Markets also sunk this morning in Asia, with Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 losing 3.9 per cent, its biggest daily drop since March. China witnessed its lowest stock market level in almost four years…

“The turbulent start for investors comes after the US stock market tumbled…

“The crumbling of global markets comes following concerns from investors surrounding global economic growth and rising interest rates. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates which makes it more expensive for companies to borrow and harms share prices… President Trump described the Fed as having ‘gone crazy’…”

Explosive Situation in the Middle East

Reuters wrote on October 10:

“U.S. President Donald Trump increased pressure on Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to provide information on what happened to missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi [a US resident working for the Washington Post] and said he wanted to get [to] the bottom of what he called ‘a very serious situation.’… Pressure appeared to be building worldwide on close U.S. ally Saudi Arabia on the whereabouts of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get documents for his planned marriage… Turkish sources said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the building and removed, allegations that Riyadh dismisses as baseless…”

Bloomberg added on October 11:

“Allegations that Saudi agents flew into Turkey and murdered one of the kingdom’s leading critics would have sent shock waves through bilateral relations at any point. But with the two countries already on opposite sides of some of the Middle East’s defining rifts, the accusations… are potentially even more explosive. Each chilling leak about the possible fate of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the resultant international condemnation, makes a behind-the-scenes compromise that much harder…

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he can’t remain silent over Khashoggi’s fate, adding to growing differences between the countries. Those disagreements run deep and extend far: from Turkey’s support for a leading Islamist group that Saudi Arabia has designated as terrorists, to relations with Shiite power Iran and the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar…”

These developments are of high significance for the USA, as both Turkey and Saudi Arabia belong to America’s close allies.

Hurricane Michael’s Devastation

Deutsche Welle wrote on October 11:

“Hurricane Michael has caused widespread damage across the Florida Panhandle. The Category 4 monster was among the most powerful hurricanes in half a century to strike the mainland United States.

“The storm blew ashore early Wednesday afternoon near Florida’s Mexico Beach as a Category 4 hurricane. It was just short of being categorized as level 5. With winds surging to 155 mph (250 kph), Michael wreaked havoc on the Florida Panhandle, leaving a devastating trail of destruction along the Gulf coast…

“… Michael was… the most powerful hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle…

“Some 375,000 people had been urged to leave their homes for stronger shelters in Florida, but many residents were trapped after they were caught surprised by the storm doubling in strength as it approached land. By Wednesday night, more than 400,000 people in Florida, Georgia and Alabama were without power… [The figure rose to over 900,000 homes and businesses without power by Thursday.]

“The governors of North and South Carolina urged residents to prepare for heavy rain and winds, which come less than a month after Hurricane Florence battered the mid-Atlantic coast… In the past year, several massive stormsbattered the US coasts, including Irma, Maria and Harvey. Houston’s metropolitan area suffered a record-equaling $125 billion (€108 billion) in damage…”

Many blame climate change for the increased hurricane activities. Whatever the truth, it is clear to us that Satan, the prince of the power of the air, is the real instigator of these devastating developments, but God allows them in His attempt to wake America up.

What if Trump Refuses to Leave?

 Politico wrote on September 20:

“What if, after having moved into the White House and gotten comfortable, Donald Trump refuses to check out when his term ends?… Who’s to say that Trump’s legal advisers might construct some pretext — a national security crisis or charges of election fraud — that would place him above the constitution and cement his place in the Oval Office?

“The fear that a president might not go at his appointed time has a precedent. President Franklin D. Roosevelt… contemplated taking dictatorial powers at the beginning of his first administration, but then reconsidered… Nixon intimates began to believe that he was contemplating some sort of a coup d’état to maintain power.

“… half of all Republicans surveyed favored postponing the 2020 election until new standards made it certain that only eligible American citizens could vote… This isn’t the first time the idea of postponing the federal election has surfaced. In 2004… Congress… passed a resolution, 419-2, declaring that nobody could shelve an election. So if Trump couldn’t postpone an election, could he just ignore it? The nation would erupt, of course…

“The president’s cheerleading for anti-democratic authoritarians like Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, Xi Jinping and Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and the mutual admiration pact he’s signed with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un does not bode well for an orderly transition of power in 2020 or 2024 or whenever…”

As we have proclaimed from the outset (when Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy) that Trump would become America’s 45th President, we have also stated time and again that we believe strongly that Trump will be America’s last President.

Brett Kavanaugh Sworn in as USA Supreme Court Justice

The Guardian wrote on October 8:

“Donald Trump, speaking at a triumphalist White House ceremony, has made the baseless claim that the new supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh was ‘proven innocent’ of allegations of sexual assault. In what he acknowledged was a break from tradition, the US president told a packed East Room on Monday: ‘On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.’

“… The president added: ‘…I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent…’

“The judge was found neither guilty nor innocent of allegations brought by research psychologist Dr Christine Blasey Ford that, when he was 17 and she 15 in the 1980s… Kavanaugh’s furious, politically charged denials before the Senate judiciary committee raised questions over his judicial temperament and independence…

“Laurence Trib‏e, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, tweeted: ‘I pity the Justices who had no realistic option but to attend and serve as props for the partisan display. Only Thomas, clapping with gusto, looked like he was really pleased to be there. The others looked like polite hostages. A grim and tasteless spectacle.’…”

Nevertheless, the appointment of Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice constitutes a big victory for Donald Trump, which might also have some relevance for the upcoming midterm elections.

Cannabis Reform Coming?

Fox Business News reported on October 11:

“The White House is planning on tackling cannabis reform after the midterm elections, according to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.. Rohrabacher tells FOX Business that the Trump administration has made a ‘solid commitment’ to fix marijuana regulation… ‘I have been reassured that the president intends on keeping his campaign promise.’

“Rohrabacher says the president has spoken in support of legalizing medical marijuana on the federal level – and leaving the question of recreational marijuana use up to the states… ‘It could be as early as spring of 2019, but definitely in the next legislative session.’”

It is high time that the ridiculous condemnatory federal designation of medical marijuana is changed. Patients who truly NEED medical marijuana should be allowed to use it. At the same time, we strongly reject recreational marijuana in any manner, shape or form.

Merkel Warns Trump

AFP wrote on September 30:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday warned US President Donald Trump against ‘destroying’ the United Nations. ‘I believe that destroying something without having developed something new is extremely dangerous,’ Merkel said… The veteran leader… added that she believed multilateralism was the solution to many of the world’s problems.

“Trump failed to see the possibility for win-win solutions, she said, instead seeing only one winner from any international negotiation. In his second appearance before the UN’s annual gathering last week, Trump told the General Assembly that he and his administration ‘reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism’. ‘Global governance’ is a form of ‘coercion and domination’ that ‘responsible nations must defend against’, he charged.

“Merkel’s opposing view to the US leader puts her in the same camp as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who warned before Trump took the podium in New York Tuesday that ‘today, world order is increasingly chaotic’”.

Europe Defies Trump over Iran

Handesblatt Global wrote on October 4:

“Defying Trump, EU plans to support trade with Iran. The EU is rushing to set up a payments system to bypass US sanctions against Iran. The move is likely to deepen the rift between the US and Europe. The European Union, China and Russia, battling to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran after the United States withdrew from it in May, plan to create a system of export loans to stop US sanctions crippling trade with Iran… The planned Special-Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to process trade payments with Iran is to be furnished with a banking license as soon as possible in addition to the bartering system already being discussed, government sources said.

“German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo in Washington on Wednesday but both statesmen failed to find common ground on Iran… Crucially, Washington has warned countries they face penalties if they disregard those sanctions…

“Washington has taken note of the new US strategy outlined by Mr. Maas in August when he became the first post-war German foreign minister to suggest that America should be treated as a strategic rival in central political questions, and that Mr. Trump’s unilateralism must be countered. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo… said last week he was ‘disturbed and indeed deeply disappointed’ at the planned special payment system. ‘This is one of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional global peace and security,’ he told a conference. “By sustaining revenues to the regime, you are solidifying Iran’s ranking as (the) No. 1 state sponsor of terror.’’

The differences between the USA and Europe over Iran became also highlighted during Merkel’s recent visit in Israel, when Netanyahu took America’s side against Europe. It is also remarkable that Trump’s worldwide unpopularity is not shared by most Israelis who agree with Trump on many issues, including his stance on Iran.

Are Merkel’s Days on a “Sinking Ship” Numbered?

The Local wrote on September 26:

“The news that a key ally of Angela Merkel lost his post as the CDU’s parliamentary chief dropped like a political bomb in Berlin… It was a shock that no one saw coming. On Tuesday Volker Kauder, who has headed the parliamentary group of Angela Merkel’s CDU and Bavarian allies CSU for 13 years, lost in a re-election battle to challenger Ralph Brinkhaus, a relative unknown… The surprising result came a day after Merkel was forced to admit mistakes in her handling of a row surrounding Germany’s outgoing domestic spy chief. Political observers and opponents called the vote a slap in the face for the chancellor, who had campaigned hard for Kauder’s re-election…

“An opinion piece published by Die Zeit on Tuesday said: ‘The Chancellor’s power is dwindling at an alarming rate. If Merkel’s chancellorship were a ship, the water would now be up to the engine room.’… Sueddeutsche Zeitung called the defeat a ‘humiliation’ for Merkel… Earlier on Tuesday, Spiegel Online had said that a win by Brinkhaus would mean that ‘Merkel should really clean out her office in the chancellery immediately – his election would be nothing short of a vote of distrust against the leader of the government.’

“… Voter anxiety over the policy swelled support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party…”

The ongoing infighting within the ruling grand coalition (GroKo) between the CDU, Bavaria’s CSU and the SPD has taken its toll. The government is perceived as not acting, but only as reacting to the problems of their own making. The right-wing anti-immigration and pro-military AfD party is of course profiting from such incompetent rule. According to polls, the AfD has now become the second-strongest party in Germany, following the CDU but in front of the SPD [see article below]. However, the government is not interested in new elections, rightly fearing that the AfD would even receive more votes than in the previous election.

Concerns regarding the AfD are well–founded. A leader of the AfD has made outrageous and ridiculous statements, including the preposterous allegation that Hitler was “forced” to invade Poland. He also called Count Stauffenberg a coward. As recently prominently pictured in the movie, “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise, Stauffenberg tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Hitler in 1944.

However, time for Merkel is running out, and upcoming state elections might very well decide her fate. The youth group within the CDU recently demanded more recognition and support for the German military (perhaps to counter the AfD), and Merkel reacted again, by endorsing the request, rather than leading in the first place. The patriotic and pro-military stance of many Germans is also noteworthy, as post-war Germany used to be known for its pacifistic stance in the past. But times have most certainly changed.

The AfD and National Socialism

Project Syndicate wrote on October 9:

“By adopting a program based on ‘identity and solidarity,’ Germany’s far-right AfD is harking back to classic National Socialism. It is likely to be a winning formula in this month’s state elections in Bavaria and Hesse… If opinion polls counted as elections, large parts of Germany would already be governed by the far right. In several eastern German states, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has established itself as the strongest political force. Almost everywhere else in the country, the party currently ranks second – on par or just ahead of the struggling Social Democrats (SPD) and behind only Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

“In coming weeks, matters could get even worse. In regional elections in Bavaria on October 14 and in Hesse two weeks later, the AfD is poised to enter the two last remaining regional parliaments without far-right representation… The AfD has always been a political chameleon, cleverly exploiting mismanaged issues… much will depend on how Germany’s center responds… But this will be difficult to do for the CDU and the SPD. Locked in an unpopular grand coalition,… an ideological realignment would make finding common ground in the government increasingly challenging and could well result in an early federal election. And such an outcome would only further strengthen the AfD.”

AFP added on October 9:

“German historians on Wednesday accused far-right leader Alexander Gauland of paraphrasing Adolf Hitler in a newspaper column taking aim at a ‘globalised class’ that he claimed threatens all that is good in his ‘homeland’. The co-leader of the far-right AfD rejected allegations of parallels with a 1933 speech by Hitler, but the latest episode is yet another controversy raising questions over his anti-migrant party’s views on the Nazi-era…

“Historian Wolfgang Benz, a prominent researcher on the Nazi era, noted… that Gauland’s commentary was strikingly similar to a speech made by Hitler in 1933. ‘It’s a paraphrase that looks like the AfD chief had the Fuehrer’s speech from 1933 on his desk when he was writing his column for the FAZ,’ wrote Benz in Tagesspiegel daily…”

Deutsche Welle wrote on October 9:

“Germany’s far-right AfD wants to set up online portals across the country where schoolchildren can denounce teachers who speak against the party… Teachers groups and politicians from other parties have spoken out against the idea. ‘They are organizing open denunciation — these are all building blocks toward totalitarianism,’ said Winfried Kretschmann, state premier of Baden-Württemberg, on Tuesday…

“For many Germans, the concept of informing on other people is reminiscent of dark chapters in the country’s history, such as the Nazi era or the communist German Democratic Republic, when denunciation was actively encouraged. Thuringia’s education minister, Helmut Holter, said the AfD move was reminiscent of ‘the darkest chapter in German history.’ Christian Piwarz, the culture minister from Saxony, echoed Holter’s view, saying the AfD was displaying a ‘disgusting’ snooping culture that was known to Germany from the Nazi dictatorship or the East German Stasi.”

Catholic Church Disappearing in The Netherlands

Dutch News reported on September 17:

“More than half of the Netherlands Catholic bishops and cardinals were aware of cases of sexual abuse between 1945 and 2010, the NRC reported at the weekend, on the basis of its own research. The paper accuses the Church of covering up the abuse, allowing the perpetrators to make more victims after making an inventory of the known and less-well known abuse cases which have come to light since 2010…  The church told the paper in a statement that the story by and large is accurate…

“Meanwhile, the AD reports that the Catholic church is disappearing from the Netherlands at high speed… Although the Netherlands officially has 3.5 million Catholics, few are regular churchgoers and the average number of attendees at mass has fallen to 173,500 in total…”

Massive Child Abuse in German Catholic Church

Evangelical Focus reported on September 13:

“As many as 1,670 priests in Germany have been accused of sexually abusing children in the last seven decades. An internal report commissioned by the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference reveals that 25% of the cases would have happened in church buildings. Around 38,000 documents have been analysed by criminologists, gerontologists and psychologists of three universities (Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim), which describe cases between 1946 and 2014. The number of priests accused of sexual abuse represents 4.4% of the Catholic leadership in the time investigated. Most of the 3,677 victims were male and 13 years old or younger. Every sixth case involved a rape, and three in four victims knew the perpetrator through the church…

“According to German magazine Der Spiegel, the first in publishing the report, 4% of the priests accused of abuse in the research are still working for the Church… The Bishops Conference lamented that the report was leaked to the media…

“According to German website Deutsche Welle, ‘accused priests were often quietly transferred to other parishes, without providing the affected communities with information about the abuser. The church pursued only one-third of abusers, who submitted themselves to church law. However, they received either minimal sanctions or their charges were dismissed altogether’…”

These despicable actions appear to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Blame it on the Devil

Reuters reported on October 8:

“The devil is alive and well and working overtime to undermine the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis says. In fact, the pope is so convinced that Satan is to blame for the sexual abuse crisis and deep divisions racking the Church that he has asked Catholics around the world to recite a special prayer every day in October to try to beat him back… The Church has recently been hit by one sexual abuse scandal after another, from Germany, to the United States, to Chile. At the same time, a deepening polarization between conservatives and liberals in the Church has played out on social media.

“Francis’ use of the term ‘the great accuser’ to describe Satan hit a raw nerve with one of the pope’s harshest conservative critics, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s former ambassador to Washington. In an 11-page statement published on Aug. 26, Viganò launched an unprecedented broadside by a Church insider against the pope and a long list of Vatican and U.S. Church officials. He accused Francis of knowing about sexual misconduct by a former U.S. cardinal with male adult seminarians but not doing anything about it…

“Francis…  has enlisted the aid of… Michael the Archangel… Catholics are being asked to recite the rosary daily in October and conclude it with a prayer to St. Michael that was said after Mass until 1964 but then fell into disuse.”

Letters by former Pope Benedict have surfaced, suggesting that he resigned because of the economic and homosexual powers within the Vatican and also because of devious sexual conduct by high-ranking Catholic priests which had come to his attention. To pray to an angel is of course prohibited in the Bible.

Pope Condemns Abortion as “Contract-Killing”

AFP wrote on October 10:

“Pope Francis on Wednesday compared having an abortion to hiring a ‘contract killer’. ‘Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone,’ Francis said in an address to worshippers in the Vatican. ‘Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem,’ he added…

“In his address, the Argentine pontiff complained of a ‘depreciation of human life’. He cited wars, exploitation and what he called a culture of wastefulness, as well as abortion. ‘How can an act that suppresses innocent life be therapeutic, civil or even human?’ he asked.

“Francis this year opposed a bill that would have legalized abortion in Argentina. In August a lay campaign group said thousands of Argentine Catholics had renounced their membership of the church to protest against his opposition to the bill.”

Deutsche Welle reported on October 11:

German family minister Franziska Giffey slammed Pope Francis on Thursday for his recent comments on abortion… Minister Giffey said the pope’s comments were unacceptable, saying no women take lightly the decision to abort…

“Germany’s professional association of gynecologists was also outraged, saying abortions are performed out of necessity. ‘They do not carry out abortions because they are unscrupulous, but because they feel obliged to help, especially for reasons of conscience,’ association president Christian Albring said.”

Abortion is wrong. The Bible DOES call it MURDER. Abortions are NOT performed out of necessity. This is a ridiculously stupid comment.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

Sermonettes and sermons from the 2018 Feast of Tabernacles in the US and Germany are being posted on our websites. This involves much time and effort, and we are grateful to Johanna Link for her tireless commitment to this work.

We are very pleased to announce that ordinations took place in Germany during this year’s Feast of Tabernacles: Michael Link was raised to Pastor; Thilo Hanstein and Christoph Sperzel were ordained as Elders; Johann Schell (Deacon); Mike Richter (Deacon); Manuel Mueller (Deacon) and Silke Mueller (Deaconess).

“Der Geist Gottes, der Engel, des Tieres und des Menschen,” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Nobert Link. Title in English: “The Spirit of God, of Angels, of Man and of Animals.”

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